Five Years Ago
One topic naturally dominates this week’s look at 2011, and will for several weeks to come: SOPA. The industry’s plan was becoming clear: pretend the bill doesn’t say what it says and offer up nonsensical interpretations. Pay no attention to the studies showing it will harm investment and innovation, the fact that it will not solve infringement, the loud voice of Rep. Darrel Issa opposing the voice, the huge censorship concerns summarized in Time magazine, or the opposition of the American Library Association. The House of Representatives certainly seemed to have no problem ignoring all these concerns either. No effort was made to resolve the convoluted language in the bill, and we pointed out that it also massively expands the copyright industries’ diplomatic corp. Soon, the internet began planning the first of many protests.
Ten Years Ago
This week in 2006, Australia was facing its own copyright reform, but began to smarten up as Google explained how it would kill the internet and the government actually looked into (and debunked) the industry’s absurd claims of losses. Meanwhile, much like today, people in the US were discussing what the recent election would mean for various policy issues — in this case, the Democratic takeover of the House in 2006. It actually offered some encouragement, but lots of questions, for areas like copyright policy and telecom policy and net neutrality.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2001, the world was still reeling from September 11th while also preparing for the holiday seasons. These things intersected in the occasional prediction that fear of going to malls would drive shoppers online — but evidence didn’t back this up, and besides, there were a lot of other factors in what the e-holidays would bring. As for physical retailers selling high-tech equipment, they were facing their own crisis. Meanwhile, Microsoft was under the anti-competitive microscope and negotiating with the DOJ, while the Hewlett-Packard/Compaq merger met with disapproval from both the Hewlett family and the Packard family.
One-Hundred Years Ago
This week we can note an interesting centennial in the history of technology and politics. On November 7th, 1916, an experimental New York radio station broadcast the U.S. election results in audio for the very first time (they had previously only been broadcast in morse code). Amusingly, this first ever broadcast also called the election wrong, declaring Charles Evan Hughes the winner before signing off at 11 PM, only to find out the next day Woodrow Wilson had actually won.